Leviticus 4:2
"Tell the Israelites to do as follows with one who sins unintentionally against any of the LORD's commandments and does what is forbidden by them:
The Mind of God Respecting the Sin of ManW. Clarkson Leviticus 4:2
The Sin OfferingR.A. Redford Leviticus 4:1, 2
The Sin Offering for the PriestJ.A. Macdonald Leviticus 4:1-3
Unintentional TransgressionS.R. Aldridge Leviticus 4:1, 9
The Sin Offering Viewed as Typical of the Sacrifice of CalvaryJ.A. Macdonald Leviticus 4:1-12
Atonement for the Penitent, as Illustrated in the Sin OfferingR.M. Edgar Leviticus 4:1-35
All Sin Must be AbhorredJ. Spencer.Leviticus 4:2-35
Errors and Oversights in All Our LivesT. Gataker.Leviticus 4:2-35
Ignorance in SinningW. H. JellieLeviticus 4:2-35
Involuntary OffencesLeviticus 4:2-35
Man's Incompetency to Deal with SinC. H. Mackintosh.Leviticus 4:2-35
On Sins Committed in IgnoranceThe Preacher's Hom. Com.Leviticus 4:2-35
Sins of IgnoranceJ. Cumming, D. D.Leviticus 4:2-35
Sins of InfirmityS. Mather.Leviticus 4:2-35
Sins of InfirmityA. Willet, D. D.Leviticus 4:2-35
Sins UnperceivedA. A. Bonar.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Best are not Free from ImperfectionSpurgeon, Charles HaddonLeviticus 4:2-35
The Bible Tells of Sin and its CureLeviticus 4:2-35
The Sin and Trespass-OfferingsJ. A. Seiss, D. D.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-OfferingSpurgeon, Charles HaddonLeviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-OfferingA. Jukes.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-OfferingDean Law.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-OfferingE. F. Willis, M. A.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-OfferingB. W. Newton.Leviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-Offering; Or, Expiation and ForgivenessLeviticus 4:2-35
The Sin-Offering; Or, God Just and JustifierLady Beaujolois DentLeviticus 4:2-35

If a soul shall sin. This chapter which treats of this sin offering, and more especially these words of the second verse, may remind us -

I. THAT ALL MEN HAVE SINNED, AND ARE GUILTY BEFORE GOD. The stern facts of the case make the words, "If a soul shall sin," equivalent to "When a soul sins." The succeeding chapters provide for all possible cases, as if it were only too certain that men in every station and in every position would sin. So in John we have, "If any man sin," accompanied by the plain utterance, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves," etc. (1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:1). It is a significant fact that, in providing for the people of God, the Divine Legislator had to contemplate the moral certainty that all, even those standing in his immediate presence and engaged in his worship, would fall into sin and condemnation. This significant provision is only too well confirmed by:

1. The record of Hebrew history.

2. Other statements of Scripture (Psalm 14:2, 3; Romans 3:10, 23; Galatians 3:22; 1 John 1:10).

3. Our observation and knowledge of mankind.

4. Our own conscience: every soul does sin in thought, in word, in deed; doing those "things which ought not to be done" (verse 2), and leaving undone (not thought, not spoken, not fulfilled) those things God righteously requires. "The God in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways, have we not glorified" (Daniel 5:23).

III. THAT SIN WAS (AND STILL MAY BE) DIVIDED INTO THE PARDONABLE AND UNPARDONABLE. The words, "If a soul shall sin," are preparatory to the announcement of Divine provision for pardon. But there is a line drawn between sin and sin. Reference is frequently made to sinning "through ignorance" (verses 2, 13, 22, 27). This is distinguished from "presumptuous sin" (Numbers 15:30, 31; Deuteronomy 17:12). For the one there was pardon; for the other, instant execution. The word "ignorance" was not confined to mere inadvertence; it extended to sins of unpremeditated folly and passion; probably to all sins but deliberate, high-handed rebellion against God and his Law (Leviticus 16:21; comp. Acts 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:13). Pardon was provided, but there was a limit to the Divine mercy; there was iniquity for which no sacrifice availed (1 Samuel 3:14). Under the gospel there is one "unpardonable sin," the sin "against the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 12:31, 32). In the time of our Lord, this sin took the special form of blasphemy against the Spirit of God. In our time it resolves itself into a persistent and obdurate resistance of his Divine influence. This necessarily ends in final impenitence and ultimate condemnation. This one sin excepted, the mercy of God in Christ Jesus extends

(1) to the blackest crimes;

(2) to the longest career in wrong-doing;

(3) to the guiltiest disregard of privilege and opportunity.

III. THAT GOD HAS PROVIDED FOR THE PARDON OF SIN BY SACRIFICE. It is a striking fact that the same word in Hebrew which signifies sin is also used for "sin offering." So closely, so intimately in the will of God, and hence in the mind of man, were the two things connected - sin and sacrifice. All unpresumptuous sins might be forgiven, but not without shedding of blood. Sin, in God's thought, means death, and the sinner must be made to feel that, as such, he is worthy of death. Hence he must bring the animal from his herd or flock, and it must be slain, the guilt of the offerer having been solemnly confessed over, and (by imputation) formally conveyed to the victim's head. The life of the one for the life of the other. Doubtless it sufficed for the time and for the purpose, but it was not the redemption which a guilty race needed, and which a God of boundless peace was intending and was thus preparing to supply. The sin offering was prophetic, symbolical. The blood of bulls could not take away the sin of the world; only the slain Lamb of God would avail for that (Hebrews 10:4; John 1:29). But "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin;" "If any man sin,... he is the propitiation for our sins... for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:1, 2). "He hath made him to be sin (a sin offering) for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made," etc. (2 Corinthians 5:21). We learn from the foregoing:

1. The one great and deep want of the world. We have bodies that need to be clothed, fed, etc., but this is nothing to the fact that we are souls that have sinned, needing to be forgiven and accepted of God.

2. The inestimable advantages we now enjoy. If the Jew had great advantages over the Gentile, we are far more privileged than he. There has been offered for us "one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Hebrews 10:12), available for all souls, under the heaviest condemnation, for all time.

3. Our proportionate guilt if we are negligent (Hebrews 10:29). - C.

If a soul shall sin through ignorance.
I. THERE ARE, THEN, SOME LINGERING DEFILEMENTS AND TRESPASSES ADHERING TO MAN, EVEN THOUGH HE BE JUSTIFIED, CONSECRATED, AND IN FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. A man may run from a gathering storm, and be terribly shocked at the idea of being caught in it, and exert all his wisdom and his power to escape it, and yet may be made to feel its force; and though a good man's whole being is averse to sin, and he can have no more fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, it can argue nothing against a remaining weakness subjecting him every day to lacks and failings which would undo him but for the pleadings of his Saviour's blood. Though his face and heart are fully turned away from sin, it proves nothing against his liability to be "overtaken by a fault."

II. AND THESE LINGERING IMPERFECTIONS AND DEFECTS ARE REAL SINS. Men do not scruple to plead their ignorance, their infirmities, their natural and habitual propensities, in excuse for their misdeeds. But the law of God acknowledges no such plea. Sin is sin; and guilt is a part of its essential nature wherever found. True, in their effects upon the perpetrator, or in their influences upon society, some are worse than others; but in their relations to God and His holy law, they are always the same, always evil, abhorrent, and damning. Men may talk of "little sins," but God never does. Let them he never so little, they are big enough to sink the soul to everlasting death if uncancelled by the Saviour's blood. All this is very forcibly portrayed in the rites of the sin and trespass-offerings now under consideration. As to sins of ignorance, if the guilty party were a priest, he was to offer "a young bullock"; if a judge or magistrate, he was to offer "a kid of the goats," of the male kind; if one of "the common people," he was to offer "a kid of the goats," of the female kind, or a lamb. And so in the case of trespass, the guilty one was to offer "a lamb or kid"; or, if poor, two doves or young pigeons; or, if poor, and unable to procure the doves or pigeons, an offering of fine flour might be substituted as the representative of the animal or bird which could not be procured, but was to be looked upon, not as a meat-offering, hut as a "sin-offering," the same as if it were a living animal. These offerings were then to he slain and burned, and their blood presented as the only adequate expiation. And from the nature of the expiation we are to learn God's estimate of the offence. Though committed in ignorance, or no more than a trespass, or an accidental contamination, it required blood and sacrifice to cover it.

III. THERE IS ALSO A NOTICEABLE GRADATION IN THESE SINS OF IGNORANCE. Though they are all sins, so that blood only can atone for them, they are yet more serious and offensive in some persons than in others. When a priest or ruler sinned in this way, a more valuable sacrifice was required than when one of the common people thus sinned. The more prominent and exalted the person offending, the more flagrant was the offence. There is a very serious augmentation of responsibility going along with high station. A public man is like a town clock, upon which much more depends than upon private time-pieces. Hence the necessity for greater care and attention with reference to the one than to the other.

IV. But whilst we are treating of these defects and failings which are to be found in Christian life, let us not overlook the principal point of the text, THAT THERE IS ADEQUATE REMEDY FOR THEM. What! are we to be told that Christ's infinite atonement is that shallow thing, that the first draw of the sinner upon it quite exhausts its virtue, and leaves all subsequent sins to be disposed of by the confessional, and the fires of purgatory? Are we to be told that Christ "ever liveth to make intercession," and for this reason "is able to save unto the uttermost," and yet that there is not virtue enough in His mediation to cover a few sins of ignorance and infirmity in Christian life? Are we to behold the priest of a typical economy, with the mere blood of beasts upon his fingers, obtaining a full remission for the Jew, and yet believe that our great High Priest in heaven, bearing the scars of deadly wounds endured for us, is unable to secure mercy for those struggling saints of God, who, in hours of surprise or weakness, become entangled again in guilt of which they heartily repented the moment it was done? Give us this, and we want no pontifical absolutions, no penal inflictions, no purgatorial fires, to make us acceptable to God. From this general subject we are now led to reflect —

1. First, what a holy thing is God's law! It finds guilt, not only in the sins which are deliberate, but even in the mistakes of ignorance, the contaminations of accident, and the shortcomings of the holiest saints.

2. Second, what reason have we to cultivate the modest virtues of Christian life — to be moderate in our pretensions, humble in our spirit, charitable in our censures, forgiving under injuries, lenient towards offenders, pungent in our self-examinations, hearty in our repentance, watchful in our walk, constant in our prayers, and deeply anxious to be firmly rooted in the true faith l I care not how good we may be, we are still great offenders, and much worse than we think we are.

3. Finally, how precious is the mercy of God in Christ Jesus!

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)


1. His personal character is set forth in the victim chosen. It was a bullock, the most valuable of the sacrifices, an animal laborious in life and costly in death; it was a young bullock in the fulness of its strength and vigour; it was without blemish; and the slightest fault disqualified it from being laid upon the altar of God. Behold, O believer, your Lord Jesus, more precious far than ten thousands of the fat of fed beasts: a sacrifice not to be purchased with gold, or estimated in silver. Full of vigour, in the very prime of manhood, He offered up Himself for us. Even when He died, He died not through weakness; for that cry of His at His death, "with a loud voice," proved that His life was still firm within Him, and that when He gave up the ghost, His death was not one of compulsion, but a voluntary expiring of the soul. His glory is as the firstling of the bullock, full of vigour and of strength. How distinctly was our Lord proved to be without blemish! Naturally born without sin, practically He lived without fault.

2. The act of the transference of sin to the victim next calls for our attention. This laying of the hand does not appear to have been a mere touch of contact, but in some other places of Scripture has the meaning of leaning heavily, as in the expression, "Thy wrath lieth hard upon me" (Psalm 88:7). Surely this is the very essence of faith, which doth not only bring us into contact with the great Substitute, but teaches us to lean upon Him with all the burden of our guilt; so that if our sins be very weighty, yet we see Him as able to bear them all; and mark, the whole weight of our iniquity taken off from us, and laid on Him who took the weight and bore it all, and then buried it in His sepulchre for ever.

3. We must now beg your notice of the sins transferred. In the case of the type, they were sins of ignorance. Alas! the Jew knew nothing about a sin-offering for sins of presumption, but there is such a sin-offering for us. Our presumptuous sins were laid on Christ; our wilful sins, our sins of light and knowledge, are pardoned by His blood. The mention of sins of ignorance, suggests a very comfortable reflection, that if there are any sins which I know not, they were, notwithstanding my ignorance, laid on my Substitute and put away by His atonement. It is not sin as we see it which was laid on Christ, but sin as God sees it; not sin as our conscience feebly reveals it to us, but sin as God beholds it, in all its unmitigated malignity, and unconcealed loathsomeness. Sin in its exceeding sinfulness Jesus has put away.

4. Passing on, still keeping to the same point, we would remark that the sin was laid upon the bullock most conspicuously "before the Lord." Did you notice the frequent expressions: "shall bring him to the door of the congregation before the Lord"; "kill the bullock before the Lord"; "shall sprinkle the blood seven times before the Lord, and shall put some of it upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord"? Apart from the blood, we are guilty, condemned: washed in blood, we are accepted and beloved. Without the atonement we are aliens and strangers, heirs of wrath even as others; but, as seen in the eternal covenant purpose, through the precious blood of Jesus, we are accepted in the beloved. The great stress of the transaction lies in its being done "before the Lord."

5. Still, further, carefully observe that as soon as ever the sin was thus "before the Lord," laid upon the bullock, the bullock was slain. "He shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the Lord." So, in the fifteenth verse, "The elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord, and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord." Ah! yes; as soon as the sin is transferred, the penalty is transferred too. Down fell the pole-axe the minute that the priestly hand had been laid on the bullock. Unsheathed was the knife of sacrifice the moment that the elders had begun to lean upon the sacrificial head. So was it with our Saviour; He must smart, He must die, for only as dying could He become our Sin-offering.


1. As soon as the bullock was slain, blood of the sin-offering was sprinkled. This was to show that our communion with God is by blood.

2. The next act of the priest was to retire a little from the veil to the place where stood the golden altar of incense, adorned with four horns of gold probably of a pyramidal shape, or fashioned like rams' horns, and the priest, dipping his finger in the basin, smeared this horn and the other, until the four horns glowed with crimson in the light of the golden candlestick. The horn is always, in the Oriental usage, indicative of strength. What was the blood put upon the altar for, then? That incense altar was typical of prayer, and especially .of the intercession of Christ; and the blood on the horn showed that the force and power of all-prevailing intercession lies in the blood. Why was this the second thing done? It seems to me that the second thing which a Christian loses is his prevalence in prayer. Whereas first he loses communion with God when he backslides, the next thing he loses is his power in supplication. He begins to be feeble upon his knees; he cannot win of the Lord that which he desireth. How is he to get back his strength? Here the great Anointed Priest teaches us to look to the blood for renewed power, for see, he applies the blood to the horns of the altar, and the sweet perfume of frankincense ascends to heaven, and God accepts it.

3. This being finished, the priest goes backwards still farther and enters the court of the Israelites. There stood the great altar of brass, whereon was consumed the burnt-offerings; and now the priest, having the basin full of the blood of which only a small quantity had been used in sprinkling the veil and touching the horns of the golden altar, pours the whole of the remaining blood in a great stream at the foot of the altar of burnt-offering. What does that typify? Did he not thus teach us that the only ground and basis (for mark, it is put at the foot of the altar), of the acceptance of our persons and of our thank-offerings is found in the blood of Jesus? Thus I have tried to set forth the threefold prevalence of the precious blood, but let it not be forgotten that the blood also put away sin; for you find at the end of the chapter, "His sin shall be forgiven." First forgiven, then accepted, then prevalent in prayer, and then admitted into access with boldness to God; what a change of blessings! All, all through the blood of Jesus!

III. Thirdly, the most painful part of our sermon remains, while I beg you to view THE SHAME WHICH OUR LORD ENDURED. While it is all so well for us I want you now to reflect how bitter, how shameful it was for our Lord! The offerer who brought the sin-offering has been forgiven: he has been accepted at the brazen altar; his prayers have been heard at the golden altar; and the veil has been sprinkled on his behalf: but what of the victim itself? Draw nigh and learn with holy wonder.

1. In the first place, albeit that our Lord Jesus Christ was made sin for us, it is noteworthy that, though nearly all the bullock was burned without the camp, there was one portion left and reserved to be burnt upon the altar of burnt-offering — that was the fat. Certain descriptions are given as to the fat which was to be consumed upon the altar, by which we believe it was intended to ensure that the richest part of the fat should be there consumed. As much as if God would say, "Though My dear Son must be made sin for this people, and consequently I must forsake Him, and He must die without the camp, yet still He is most dear and precious in My sight, and even while He is a sin-offering, yet He is My beloved Son, with whom in Himself I am still well pleased." Whenever we speak about our Lord as bearing our sins, we must carefully speak concerning Him — not as though God ever did despise or abhor the prayer of His afflicted Son, but only seemed to do so while He stood for us, representatively made sin for us, though He knew no sin. Oh! I delight to think that the Lord smelled a sweet savour even in the Cross, and that Jesus Christ is this day a sweet savour unto God, even as a sin-offering; the fat, the excellence of His heart, the consecration of His soul, were acceptable to God, and sweet in His esteem, even when He laid upon Him the iniquity of His people. Still, here is the shameful part of it: the priest then took the bullock, and gathering up all the inwards, every part of it, the skin, the dung — all mentioned to teach us what a horrible thing sin is, and what the Surety was looked upon as being when He took our sin — He took it all up, and either Himself personally, or assisted by others, took it away out of the camp.

2. After the removal, they gathered the hot ashes, they kindled the fire, and burnt it all. See here a faint image of the fire which consumed the Saviour on Calvary! His bodily pains ought never to be forgotten, but still the sufferings of His soul must have been the very soul of His sufferings; and can you tell what they were?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. IN CONTRAST WITH THE OTHER OFFERINGS.(1) The sin-offering, though without spot or blemish, was yet not a sweet-savour offering. The distinction is this: the sweet-savour offerings were for acceptance; the others for expiation. In the first class sin is not seen at all — it is simply the faithful Israelite satisfying Jehovah. In the sin-offerings it is just the reverse — it is an offering charged with the sin of the offerer. In the sin-offerings, as in the burnt-offerings, Christ is Offerer: but here He is seen standing for us under the imputation of sin. For though in Himself without sin, "the Holy One," yet He became our Substitute, confessed our sins as His sins, and bore their penalty.(2) The sin-offering was burnt without the camp. This testified how completely the offering was identified with the sin it suffered for; so completely identified that it was itself looked at as sin, and as such cast out of the camp into the wilderness. A part indeed, "the fat," was burnt on the altar, to show that the offering, though made a sin-bearer, was in itself perfect. But the body of the victim, "even the whole bullock," was cast forth without the camp. "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." He was east out as one who was unfit for Jerusalem, as unworthy a place in the city of God. And what this must have cost that Blessed One can never be entered into or understood till the holiness of Christ and the sinfulness of sin are seen in measure at least as God sees them.(3) The third peculiarity we may note in the sin-offering is, that it was an offering for sin, not an offering for trespass. God judges what we are as well as what we do; our sin, the sin in us, as much as our trespasses. In His sight sin in us, our evil nature, is as clearly seen as our trespasses, which are but the fruit of that nature. He needs not wait to see the fruit put forth. He knows the root is evil, and so will be the buddings. Now the distinction between the sin and trespass-offerings is just this: the one is for sin in our nature, the other for the fruits of it. Thus in the sin-offering no particular act of sin is mentioned, but a certain person is seen standing confessedly as a sinner: in the trespass-offering certain acts are enumerated, and the person never appears.

II. THE VARIETIES IN THIS OFFERING.(1) The first variety which is seen in the sin-offering is the difference in the animal offered. In the burnt-offering, the offering though varied was limited, either to a bullock, a lamb, a goat, or turtledoves. Here in the sin-offering we have several other grades, coming down at last to a sin-offering composed of simple "flour." Suffice it to say that here, as in the burnt-offerings, they show us the different characters under which the offering of Christ may be apprehended by us. In the sin-offering, as in the burnt-offering, one saint has one view, another another view respecting the character of the offering.(2) The next variety we may notice is in the person offering: we have the priest, the congregation, the ruler, and the common Israelite. First in order we have the sin-offering for the priest; then the sin-offering for the whole congregation; then the sin-offering for a ruler; then for one of the common people; and lastly, the sin-offering for particular sins; in which last the person of the offerer is lost sight of, and the particular act for which he offers more clearly seen. This last is very nearly akin to the trespass-offering, and is indeed called indifferently by both names of sin and trespass. In this last class, as in the lowest classes of the other offerings, we get the lowest view which can be taken of this particular aspect of the offering. But what is the import of this variety in the person offering? They are only different measures of apprehension. Of course the Offerer here, as elsewhere, is Christ, made under the law, our Representative. As such He is here seen confessing sin; but though seen as Offerer in this aspect, He may yet be seen very differently. For example, in the first case the offerer is apprehended as "priest," a person who stands the representative of a family or congregation. In other cases the offerer is seen as "one of the common people," one who stands simply the representative of an individual. In the lowest cases of all, the person of the offerer is altogether lost sight of, neither individual nor congregation are seen, and the sin for which he suffers is almost the only thing apprehended.(3) A third variety in the sin-offering has reference to "the blood." In the higher classes the blood was sprinkled on the incense altar; in the lower classes it was not taken into the Holy Place, but sprinkled upon the brazen altar in the court. The deeper the apprehension of the efficacy of the blood, the deeper will be the sense of that from which it delivers us.(4) A fourth variety in the sin-offering has reference to "the fat." In the higher grades the fat was burnt upon the altar; in the lowest class this is overlooked: what was done with the fat is entirely unnoticed. "The fat" represents the general health and energy of the whole body. Its being burnt to God was the appointed proof that the victim offered for sin was yet in itself acceptable. This acceptability is most seen in the higher classes, but it is apprehended also in all save the lowest grade. There the atonement made for sin is indeed apprehended, but the perfect acceptableness of the victim is unnoticed. So with some Christians, is not their thought respecting the sin-offering more of our, pardon than of Christ's perfectness?(5) Another variety we may observe in the sin-offering has reference to "the body" of the victim. In the higher grades it is cast without the camp; in the lower this is unnoticed; but in the law of the offerings another particular is marked; the priest is seen to feed on the offering. The import of this distinction is at once obvious. Where the sin-offering is fully apprehended, the victim, which is the sin-bearer, is seen accursed, and as such cast out as unclean into the wilderness. Where the sin-offering is more partially apprehended, the victim is still seen as sin-bearer, but the reality of its separation from God is lost sight of, and its death viewed merely as satisfying the Mediator. And how exactly this accords with the successive stages of Christian experience will be sufficiently understood by those who know much either of themselves or others. At first Christ's work, or person, or offering, is viewed with interest solely on account of what it is to us. It has taken away our sins; it has made atonement; this is the one thing, and almost the sole thing, seen respecting it. Anything further than this at such a stage would appear a grand impertinence. But let the question of peace with God be settled, let our acceptance become a thing known and realised, then the perfectness of the offering, and what it is in itself, will, without exception, be more seen and dwelt upon.(6) The last variety I will here notice in the different grades of the sin-offering is connected with the name by which the offering is variously designated. In the higher classes it is always called a "sin-offering," and no particular act of trespass is noticed; in the lower classes it is called a "trespass-offering" as well as a "sin-offering," and the person of the offerer is lost sight of in the particular trespass. So when the measure of apprehension is limited, there will be want of intelligence respecting the precise difference of sin and trespass; nor this alone; the offering will be seen only for sins; that it is offered for persons will not be apprehended. We have thus gone through the particulars of the sin-offering, as far at least as they are given in the law of the offerings. In other places there are some other details added, the principles of which are, however, all contained in what we have investigated. The additions only give us some new combinations as to the character under which the sin-offering may be exhibited: I refer to the offerings of the red heifer (Numbers 19.), and of the scapegoat on the great Day of Atonement (chap. Leviticus 16.). The offering of the red heifer, as we might expect from its being found in Numbers, exhibits not so much what the offering is in itself, as its use in meeting the wants of the wilderness. Thus no memorial of it was burnt on the altar, nor was the blood seen to be taken into the Tabernacle; but the whole animal was burnt without the camp, and its ashes laid up to be mixed with the water of purification. Then when an Israelite found himself unclean, through contact with the dead, these ashes with water were sprinkled on him. All this is the sin-offering as meeting our need of cleansing, and as given to remove the defilement caused by the dead things of the wilderness. The view presented by it has to do with the effects of the offering, and its use towards man as applied by water, that is the Spirit. In the scapegoat, offered on the great day of atonement, the view presented is very different. In this sin-offering, which was offered but once a year, the blood was seen to be put on the mercy-seat. The offering it spoke of is shown (Hebrews 10:1, 22) to have been "once for over," and "access into the holiest" the consequence of it.

(A. Jukes.)

The most awful and terrible aspect of Jesus' death is presented in this type. In the burnt-offering He is seen as the "Delight" of the Father (Proverbs 8:30), the One in whom He is "well pleased" (Matthew 17:5), in the peace-offering we behold Him as the blessed Peacemaker (Matthew 5:9; Colossians 1:20). But in —

I. THE SIN-OFFERING we are shown the heinousness, the awful nature of sin, that called for such a sacrifice. Atonement is its chief feature. The Blessed One "knew no sin," yet He hung upon the Cross as "an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10), the sin-bearer, the personation of that "abominable thing" that God hates (Jeremiah 44:4). Studying the details of sin-offering, we read —

II. "IF A SOUL...SIN THROUGH IGNORANCE." All are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12), and ever prone to sin, by reason of the root of evil that dwells within. This root it is that is specially met in sin-offering (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 9:26), the sinful nature, more perhaps than the actions that spring therefrom, though these are included; but till God opens our eyes to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and how the smallest sin separates from Him, and endangers our eternal safety, we are — so to speak — sinning ignorantly. Still, no sin — even when done in ignorance — can be passed over or forgiven by a holy God "without shedding of blood"; hence God, in His grace and mercy, has provided a complete, a perfect atonement, in the "precious blood" shed (Hebrews 9:22, 28; Hebrews 10:12; 1 Peter 1:19). Even after being "made nigh," how prone are we to sin! But see Psalm 37:24; Proverbs 24:16. To sin "through ignorance" signifies, not only through actual want of knowledge, but through weakness — failing to lay hold of the "power" to keep (1 Peter 1:5) — unintentionally offending, and not realising at the time the guilt; for, in truth, who can fully realise what is sin in the sight of a holy God? But He foresaw all, and provided a perfect Sacrifice sufficient to meet it all, whether the sin be committed by "anointed priest," "whole congregation," a "ruler," or "one of the common people." The variation in the offerings teaches how sin becomes deeper, according to the position or privileges of the sinning one. The more prominent were these, the greater the harm done by evil example.

III. THE LAYING OF HANDS on the victim's head teaches much.

1. Sense of sin, and need of pardon (Psalm 51:4; Luke 18:13; 1 Timothy 1:15). "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23); hence I need a substitutionary sacrifice. "Who shall deliver me?" (Romans 7:24).

2. Transmission of guilt; truth of deepest importance. "The Lord hath laid..." (Isaiah 53:6). "Christ... suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust," &c. (1 Peter 3:18). The holy Jesus received "the wages of sin." "He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"; He overcame "through death" (Hebrews 2:14) the one who had introduced it into the world; and thus the Just One could — without the smallest sacrifice of His justice — exercise His prerogative of mercy, and be "the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

3. Faith in God's acceptance of a substitutionary sacrifice (Romans 4:25; Romans 5:1, 9). The offering was slain for the offerer; it was laden typically with his sins, as was the holy Jesus actually when He was "made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:10-13). As we meditate on these things we cannot wonder at another feature of the sin-offering.

IV. NOT VOLUNTARY. There is nothing in this type — as in others — to show willingness on the part of the Holy One, and our Lord's words in Gethsemane plainly show how He shrank from being "made sin" — that hateful thing which would separate Him from His God and Father. Hence the prayer thrice repeated, with increasing earnestness (Matthew 26:39-44; Luke 22:42-45): which contrast with the willingness displayed in the words (Psalm 40:7, 8, with Hebrews 10.).

V. THE ANIMALS sacrificed as sin-offerings varied (Leviticus 4:3, 14, 23, 28, 32), according to whether it was for the "priest," "whole congregation," "ruler," or "one of the common people." Also, as before observed, no one type could ever suffice to depict the glorious Antitype; therefore no doubt some different characteristic or aspect of the Blessed One, in His passion, is set forth in each of the animals sacrificed.

(Lady Beaujolois Dent).

I. THE SIN-OFFERING shadows forth the fulfilment of Psalm 85:10; mercy can be shown to sinners in the "free gift of... eternal life" (Romans 6:23, R.V.), because God's truth as to sin's "wages" was verified on Calvary. Righteousness, i.e., the righteous judgment of a holy God, was shown in the just punishment of "sin," borne by a sinless victim; and Peace becomes the portion of every soul taught by the Holy Spirit to know that Jesus was punished for him or her; that is, every one that believes in God's acceptance of Christ's substitutionary Sacrifice (Romans 4:25; Romans 5:1).

II. THE BLOOD strikingly shows the double aspect of this mighty sacrifice. "The life... is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). Life was forfeited by fall (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:19; Romans 5:12); therefore life must be taken, blood must be shed (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Hebrews 9:22), a substitutionary victim must be slain, before a holy God could pardon and accept the sinner. Jesus died, He shed His "precious blood," and through it we have "redemption" (Matthew 27:50; John 19:34; Romans 5:8.9; Ephesians 1:7). Observe what was done with the blood.

1. For anointed priest, or whole congregation, it was to be sprinkled "seven times before the Lord, before the veil" (Leviticus 4:6, 7, 17, 18), and put on "horns of altar of sweet incense"; seven betokening completeness, and horns power. We thus learn the completeness of restoration to worship and communion — interrupted by sin — through the power of Jesu's blood, shed on Calvary's Cross, and brought symbolically into the very presence of God for us: the ground, too, of His advocacy for us, as our "Great High Priest" (1 John 2:1, 2; Hebrews 4:14). Tim higher the position, privilege, light, the greater the sin. The anointed priest was in a very blessed position, admitted daily to minister in the Tabernacle; and the whole congregation were marked by Jehovah's favour. They were His "redeemed" or "purchased" people, called by Him, His "son," "a peculiar treasure," &c. (Exodus 15:13, 16; Exodus 4:22; Exodus 19:5); brought into covenant relationship with Jehovah, who Himself dwelt in their midst, guarding and guiding them night and day (Exodus 13:21, 22). And they were encamped around His habitation, as accepted worshippers, through the medium of the priesthood and offerings. Hence, when sin entered, blood alone could atone and restore.

2. For a ruler or one of the common people the priest must put blood on the horns of the altar of burnt-offering (chap. Leviticus 4:25, 30), telling of the power of the atoning blood to cleanse from all sin, and restore basis for worship, peace, &c.

3. All the blood was to be poured out at the bottom of the altar (vers. Leviticus 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34). This was to be done in every case, as there atonement, or reconciliation, was made; there the Lord met with the children of Israel (Exodus 29:42, 43). The pouring out tells of the fulness of the atonement made by Jesus. He "poured out His soul unto death" (Isaiah 53:12; Psalm 22:14); made "reconciliation for iniquity" (Daniel 9:24); gave "His life a ransom," &c. (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6); and in Him — our "Altar" (Hebrews 13:10) — God and the sinner meet.

III. FINE FLOUR It is thought that in chap. Leviticus 9., sin, as the root of all evil, the great principle of evil within, is specially dealt with, and when it shows itself in the committal of sin — though of ignorance — it must be judged by a holy God. In chap. 5. certain sinful actions are specified (vers. Leviticus 5:1-4), and dealt with in the same spirit (vers. Leviticus 5:5-13); but while again we see how a just and holy God must punish sin, we see also how a God of love meets the need of every sinner — even the poorest — by permitting fine flour to be offered, when the offender was "not able" to bring any of the animals named.

IV. THE BURNING, again, shows the double aspect of the holy Sufferer, by the two words used.

1. The fat, and portions of the inwards (as in peace-offering) — representing the rich excellences, heart and affections reserved for God Himself — were to be burnt as incense, or "savour of delight," upon the altar of burnt-offerings (Leviticus 4:8-10, 19, 26, 35). Striking testimony to the intrinsic worth of the holy Jesus, even when presented to our gaze as "made sin!"

2. The whole bullock was to be burnt — in judgment — "without the camp" (Leviticus 4:11, 12). The animal was — typically — loaded with man's sin. It represented man in his corrupt state, outwardly and inwardly evil (Romans 3:12; Romans 7:18): head guiding, legs walking, in evil ways, engendered within (James 1:15); therefore too loathsome to remain in sight of holy God, or be consumed with fire on His altar or table. The sin-offering must be cast forth — so to speak — from His presence. Thus "sin" was "laid upon" the sinless Son of God; the holy Jesus was separated from God, when, "in the likeness of sinful flesh," He "suffered without the gate" (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 13:11, 12). The gate of the very city chosen of God to put His Name there. Yes — outside its walls, the holy Son of God was crucified in a place set apart for the execution of malefactors (John 19:16-18).

3. "In a clean place" the bullock was to be burnt, "where the ashes" of burnt-offering were poured out (Leviticus 4:12). Ashes told of "redemption" accomplished, and the pouring out of those of burnt-offering, of acceptance of "finished" work. The "body" of Jesus was laid in a "new tomb" (Matthew 27:60), "with the rich in His death" (Isaiah 53:10); token of work "finished," complete reconciliation made, "eternal redemption" obtained (Hebrews 9:12).

V. "OUTSIDE THE CAMP" — "the gate," full of deep teaching, can here but point to subjects for meditation and study, sufficient for whole lesson.

1. Christ forsaken of God, "made a curse for us" (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Galatians 3:13), showing both desert of sinner and fate of those who die unrepentant and unpardoned, and must therefore bear the curse due to — God's judgment upon — their own sin.

2. Christ rejected by His own — by the world (John 1:11; Luke 23:1. 18, 24; 19:14); bearing reproach, scorn (Psalm 42:10; Psalm 69:9, 20; Romans 15:3; Matthew 27:43), buffeted, scourged, crucified (Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:26, 30-35).

3. All who are Christ's are called to be "separate from the world," "bearing His reproach" (2 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 13:13), for "the servant is not greater than his Lord" (John 13:16; John 15:20); hated by, crucified to world, "with Christ" (John 17:14; Galatians 6:14; Galatians 2:20).

4. Christ, the "Saviour of the world" (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). Place of Gentiles was outside the camp, so may here see how Christ died — "not for that nation only," &c. (John 11:51, 52).

(Lady Beaujolois Dent)


1. Ignorance is treated as if synonymous with guiltlessness.

2. The responsibilities which attach to the knowledge become secretly a reason why knowledge is eschewed.


1. What such sinfulness has wrought. The death of the Saviour.

2. Sin in ignorance is the embodiment in action of those dark principles of enmity against God which lie embosomed in the human heart.


1. Sources of Divine remonstrance against such sins. Nature. Scripture. Conscience.

2. Man's resistance of the Divine remonstrance.

3. How is such daring ignorance fostered?

(1)By the perversion of revealed truth.

(2)By erroneous teaching.

IV. GODLY SOULS ARE BETRAYED INTO THE COMMISSION OF INADVERTENT SINS. When Christians give themselves up to the guidance of any individual, or of any system, not strictly accordant with God's revealed truth, they will surely act against Christ and His commandments ignorantly.

V. SINS IN THE GODLY ARE MOST HEINOUS IN GOD'S ESTEEM. Sin is to be estimated by a man's spiritual elevation.


1. Against whom the sins were committed. Blood sprinkled "before the Lord."

2. The process of purging.

3. Its suggestion of death.

4. Its suggestion of wrath.


1. God's condemnation of our Substitute.

2. God's acceptance of our Substitute.

(The Preacher's Hom. Com.)


1. Neither his judgment nor his conscience is an adequate guide.

2. Hence the inquiry, What is sin? must be determined from without a man, not from within. God must be heard.

3. The presence of sin in man, even ignorantly contracted, imperils man's relationship to God. It interrupts man's approach to God, prevents his acceptable worship of God, and alienates his relationship with God.

II. GOD'S ESTIMATE AND MEASUREMENT OF SIN REGULATED THE ATONEMENT. A full atonement for all sin has been made in Christ.

1. This, if apprehended, lays the ground of a settled peace.

2. This will exalt our conception of the fulness and efficacy of the Saviour's sacrifice.

3. This will assure us of acceptable and satisfactory fellowship with God, since all sin is propitiated.

III. Ignorance concerning sin argues MAN'S REAL HELPLESSNESS IN DEALING WITH IT.

(W. H. Jellie).

1. Even sins of infirmity contract a guilt upon the soul; yea, such a guilt as needs atonement and expiation in the blood of Jesus Christ. Do not slight sins of infirmity, for then they become more than mere infirmities.

2. Here is relief unto faith against those usual complaints of daily infirmities, which many gracious souls so much complain of and mourn under. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all our sins.

3. Here is great encouragement to engage in the service and work of God, notwithstanding our own infirmities and disabilities. The Lord hath provided a sin-offering for us; He will accept our sincere, though weak endeavours, and pardon our failings.

4. Take notice what continual obligations of love are upon us to Jesus Christ. We have such continual need of Him.

(S. Mather.)

Sin! The sound is brief. But it presents a dark abyss of thought. No mind can trace its birth. No eye can see its death. It ever rolls an ever-deepening course. Think much of sin. It is earth's death-blow. It marred the beauty of a beautous world. It is man's ruin. Its most tremendous blight fell on our inner life. It drove the soul from peaceful fellowship with God. Its terrible destructions die not in the grave. It works this bitter and eternal anguish, because God's curse attends it. As the bright sun behind a threatening cloud, the sin-offering waits to change the aspect. Though sin is death, the sinner need not die. There is a fortress of escape. Such are the tidings of the sin-offering. Say, is not this the truth of truths? Mark, now, how the sin-offering in every part proves sin to be a vanquished foe. There are indeed some grades of difference in this type, as rank or as offence might differ. The first example will illustrate all. The offender is the anointed priest (Leviticus 4:3). Sin has allured-ensnared — defiled him. But now he sees his guilt. He cannot rest till pardon be obtained. God's voice directs his course. He must bring a young unblemished bullock to the Tabernacle door. Behold the proof, that God has found a ransom. This is an idle and an empty rite, except it shows the victim of God's choice. This is but mockery, except it witnesses, that help is laid on the redeeming Jesus. A solemn act is next enjoined. The offender's hands must touch the victim's head. This sign, too, has no meaning, unless it bids the sin-lost to transmit their guilt. The proxy is then slain (Leviticus 4:4). Sin must have death. The curse must fall. Believer, your sins slew Christ. They cannot now slay you. His death is yours. The precious rite continues to unfold the Saviour's worth. It shows three uses of the outpoured blood.

1. The veil is sprinkled seven times (Leviticus 4:6). This hung before the mercy-seat. It was the entrance to the holiest place. The truth is manifest. They, who would enter heaven, must plead blood shed.

2. Part dyed the golden altar's horns (Leviticus 4:7). This was the place where incense rose, as emblem of ascending prayer. Christ's intercession is salvation's crown.

3. The brazen altar drank the rest (Leviticus 4:7). Thus all is used to bring assurance to the anxious hearth Each drop subserves its part. Atonement needs the whole. The whole is given.

(Dean Law.)

1. To take heed by the fall of others (ver. 3). If the pillars may bend, End the chief props of the house shake, what shall the tender rafters do? "Be not high-minded, but fear."

2. To bear with them that are weak (Galatians 6:1). He more easily excuses sin in others, who himself is bitten with the consciousness of his own infirmity.

3. Of the greatness of the sin of the priests. As by their good life and doctrine they save themselves and those who hear them, so by the contrary they destroy both.

4. To bear patiently the momentary afflictions of this life (ver. 12; cf. Hebrews 13:13). We should in our meditation and desire go out of the world, as out of the camp, and be content to bear reproach for Christ's sake, seeing we shall have no long continuance here, but look for an everlasting habitation in heaven.

5. The multitude of sinners does not excuse sin (ver. 13).

6. The prince is to take notice of his error (ver. 22).

(A. Willet, D. D.)

These are not sins of omission, but acts committed by a person when at the time he did not suppose that what he did was sin. Although he did the thing deliberately, yet he did not perceive the sin of it. So deceitful is sin, we may be committing that abominable thing which cast angels into an immediate and an eternal hell, and yet at the moment be totally unaware! Want of knowledge of the truth and too little tenderness of conscience hide it from us. Hardness of heart and a corrupt nature cause us to sin unperceived. But here again the form of the Son of Man appears! Jehovah, God of Israel, institutes sacrifice for sins of ignorance, and thereby discovers the same compassionate and considerate heart that appears in our High Priest, "who can have compassion on the ignorant!" (Hebrews 5:2). Amidst the types of this Tabernacle we recognise the presence of Jesus; it is His voice that shakes the curtains and speaks in the ear of Moses, "If a soul shall sin through ignorance!" The same yesterday, to-day, and for ever!

(A. A. Bonar.)

The sin-offering, although first in order of application, came last in order of institution. It is distinctly a creation of the law. Sin having become, by the commandment, "exceeding sinful," the remedy provided by the law was the sin-offering, with all its elaborate ritual. The most prominent feature is the sprinkling of the blood. The blood being that which atones (Leviticus 17:11), it naturally comes most prominently forward in that which was especially the atoning sacrifice. The sin-offerings fall into two classes — viz., those whose blood was taken into the Tabernacle, placed upon the horns of the golden altar, and sprinkled seven times before the veil; and those whose blood was not taken into the Tabernacle, but only placed upon the horns of the brazen altar which stood in the outer court. To the first class belong the sin-offerings of the high priest (vers. 3-12), and of the whole congregation (vers. 13-21); to the second, those offered by rulers (vers. 22-26), or by any of the common people (vers. 27-35). Certain portions of the sacrifice were laid upon the altar of burnt-offering (vers. 8-10); the main part was dealt with in one of two ways — in sin-offerings of the first class mentioned above, it was consumed by fire outside the camp (vers. 12, 21); in other cases, viz., where the blood was not carried into the Tabernacle, it became the food of the officiating priests (Leviticus 6:26, 29; Leviticus 10:17, 18); the greater part of the blood was poured away at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering (vers. 7, 18, 25, 30, 34). Tradition adds that it descended thence into the valley of the Kedron. It is to be observed that a sin-offering was ordained to consist of one animal only, and that in each case the precise offering to be made was specified. "Men were not allowed to choose or multiply their sin-offerings, as if there could really be any proportion between their gift and the privileges to which it readmitted them, lest they should dream of compensating for so much sin by so much sacrifice." According to the unanimous tradition of the Jews, a verbal confession of the sin or sins for which the offering was brought accompanied the imposition of hands in the case of sin and trespass-offerings. The next point to be noticed is that remarkable provision of the law by which it was ordained that the majority of the sin-offerings should be eaten by the priests. The explanation of this is given in Leviticus 10:17. The people's sin passed into the very substance of the priests who thus "in a deep mystery neutralised, through the holiness vested in them by their consecration, the sin which the offerer had laid upon the victim and upon them." By this solemn act, which served but to increase the guilt of an unholy priesthood, the priests became in a remarkable manner types of Him who was "made sin for us." It remains to inquire, For what sins did the sin-offering atone? Clearly not for wilful breaches of any of God's commandments (2 Corinthians 3:7; Hebrews 2:2; Hebrews 10:28; also Numbers 15:27-31; Deuteronomy 17:12). The law proclaimed aloud that "the wages of sin is death." For what, then, were the Mosaic sacrificial atonements available? The cases which admitted the application of a sin or trespass-offering may be brought under four beads — viz.,(1) bodily defilements (Leviticus 5:2, 3; Leviticus 12:6, 7; Leviticus 15:13-15, 25-30;(2) ceremonial offence (Leviticus 5:15-19;(3) certain specified cases of moral transgression knowingly committed, in favour of which an exception from the general severity of the law was admitted, and an atonement ordained (Leviticus 6:1-7);(4) sins of ignorance and inadvertency, or offences unwittingly done (Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27; Leviticus 5:15, 18; Numbers 15:24-29). These last formed the largest class of offences to be atoned for by the Mosaic sacrifices. All this vast and complicated machinery of confession, bloodshed, sacrifice, and priestly atonement existed in the main for what, in modern language, we should call venial sins, for sins committed in ignorance or inadvertence — it might almost be said, for involuntary sins. One great lesson, then, which the system of atonement under the law must have taught, was the extreme heinousness of sin, since even "little" sins, as men might call them, had to be atoned by blood.

(E. F. Willis, M. A.)

I know nothing that gives a higher view of the holiness of God than this: that not only sins that we culpably and deliberately commit are guilt in His sight, but that we commit sins in our ignorance which are sins though we do not suppose them to be so. God's law is a fixture, and is not dependent upon our estimate. There is sin committed in the dark as well as noonday. Sin committed by those who are not acquainted with it as such, as well as when committed, though it may be aggravated in the last case by those who are acquainted with it, is still sin. Now, it has been said that sins committed in ignorance are no sins at; all; and that the ignorance of a duty is atonement for omitting that duty, or expiatory of the sin. My answer is — ignorance may extenuate our guilt, but it does not in the least modify the sin, or make an atonement for it.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

There is a prevailing disposition in the hearts of many to think of sins of ignorance as if they were no sins; or if it be allowed that they need mercy, such mercy is regarded rather as a right than as the free and unmerited gift of grace. Ignorance in the minds of such persons becomes synonymous with guiltlessness; to act conscientiously (however dark or dead the conscience)is to act blamelessly. The thought of the responsibilities that attach to knowledge becomes secretly a reason why knowledge is eschewed. In a word, darkness is loved rather than light, because darkness brings quiet, but light has awakening and convicting power. A sufficient answer to all such thoughts is this — that the especial reason for the appointment of the sin-offering was, that it might meet sins committed in ignorance. The heinousness of such sins of ignorance depends, not so much on the character of the deed done as on that condition of heart which is capable of committing sin without knowing that it is sin, and commits it, perhaps exultingly, triumphing in it as good. What must angels in heaven think of the state of that soul which is so thoroughly blinded, so utterly astray from God, as to violate His commandments and resist His will in total unconsciousness that it is doing wrong? What can be more terrible than a conscience so hardened? Nothing has a greater tendency to bring the conscience into this state, and to lead to the daring commission of sins of ignorance, than religious truth perverted. It would be happy, indeed, if we could assert, even of real Christians, that they are free from these fearful sins of ignorance. But whenever they give themselves up to the guidance of any individual, or of any system whose influence is not strictly according to the revealed truth of God, they will surely act against Christ and His commandments ignorantly. There is nothing, perhaps, at this present moment, that is operating more terribly against the progress of truth than the misdirected energies of real Christians, ignorantly sustaining error, ignorantly resisting light. If, then, there may be sins of ignorance, even where there is most diligence and watchfulness, how much more where there is negligence or slumber, or acquiescence in the prevailing evil of the age! There has been only One on earth free from sins of ignorance, even He who said, "I have set the Lord always before me"; and He came to be our Sin-offering — to bear the wrath due to these very sins of ignorance; otherwise, they alone would have sunk us into perdition for ever. The chapter before us, as being addressed to those who were ostensibly the separate people of God, teaches us especially respecting sins of ignorance committed by believers. The greater our privileges, the nearer we are brought to God; the more intimately we are connected with His service, the more terrible must be the consequences of transgression .... In atonement, Divine holiness requires in the Surety not only that He should bear every penalty, but that He should also present a substitutional perfectness for us. There are few chapters worthy of more solemn consideration than this. It teaches us the deep responsibility of all positions of ostensible service, especially such as are influential over the minds and habits of others. Any influence we may possess, any ability of instructing, comforting, or in any way helping others, by word or by example, is a talent which we cannot escape the responsibility of using. The priests of God (and all believers are priests)must act, and that, too, openly. But how needful that they should well consider the responsibility of their position; the danger in which they are of acting ignorantly, and the disastrous effects of such ignorance, in dishonouring God and injuring others who may be involved in the consequences of their sin I Honest-hearted reception of the Word of God can alone preserve us from such ignorance.

(B. W. Newton.)

Nothing can more forcibly express man's incompetency to deal with sin than the fact of there being such a thing as a "sin of ignorance." How could he deal with that which he knows not? How could he dispose of that which has never even come within the range of his conscience? Impossible. Man's ignorance of sin proves his total inability to put it away. If he does not know of it, what can he do about it? Nothing. He is as powerless as he is ignorant. Nor is this all. The fact of a "sin of ignorance" demonstrates, most clearly, the uncertainty which must attend upon every settlement of the question of sin, in which no higher claims have been responded to than those put forth by the most refined human conscience. There can never be settled peace upon this ground. There will always be the painful apprehension that there is something wrong underneath. If the heart be not led into settled repose by the Scripture testimony that the inflexible claims of Divine justice have been answered, there must of necessity be a sensation of uneasiness, and every such sensation presents a barrier to our worship, our communion, and our testimony, if I am uneasy in reference to the settlement of the question of sin, I cannot worship; I cannot enjoy communion, either with God or His people, nor can I be an intelligent or effective witness for Christ. The heart must be at rest, before God, as to the perfect remission of sin, ere we can "worship Him in spirit and in truth." If there be guilt on the conscience there must be terror in the heart; and assuredly a heart filled with terror cannot be a happy or a worshipping heart.

(C. H. Mackintosh.)

The Bible is a book with a single purpose; and that purpose is to reveal the sinfulness of the human family, and a method of salvation from that sinfulness. And, of course, a book that has only one end in view must necessarily be silent with reference to a thousand other subjects. A few years ago a man was galloping on horseback, as if he had seen a spectre, down the bank of a New England river in the dead of night. His mission was to inform the sleeping dwellers in a number of manufacturing towns farther down the stream that the great dam farther up the river was about to burst its barriers. The horseman, as he sped along, trampled myriads of flowers underfoot, but he had nothing to say of botany. He rushed by hundreds of projecting rocks, rich in stories of prehistoric ages, but he had nothing to say on the subject of geology. Over his head the starry hosts were marshalled as they had been since the foundation of the world, but he had nothing to say on the subject of astronomy. He had just one mission — to inform the sleeping toilers of their danger, and how they might escape it, and he had no time to devote to the consideration of any other subject, however important, or however fascinating to other minds. So it is with God's Word. Its single object is to tell us of sin and its cure. On this subject it is full and explicit and infallible.

"Truth, real inward truth, is the rarest of all things." Thus wrote the late Rev. F. D. Maurice, one of the most saintly men of his day. Let him who questions this consider this good man's confession, that "some little petty subterfuge, some verbal or acted dishonesty, we are continually surprised into; and against this neither a high code of honour nor an exact profession of religion is much preservation." Does the reader see in this confession, as in a mirror, his own heart? If so, and if he would know how to become absolutely truthful, let him learn that "continued intercourse with the Father of Lights, revealing our own darkness to us, is the one safeguard; and the Christian who loses that is in more danger of stumbling than an infidel." Perhaps not in more, but certainly in as much danger; since when a Christian runs from the light into darkness he is blind as other men. To be thoroughly truthful in all things, it is, therefore, needful for a good man to live very near to the God of truth. Our virtues are never so pure as when we live close to our Redeemer's throne.

It is with the children of men as with the housewife, that having diligently swept her house and cast the dust out-of-doors, can see nothing amiss, not so much as a speck of dust in it, whereas, if the sun do but a little shine in through some cranny in the wall, or some broken quarrel in the window, she may soon see the whole house swim and swarm with innumerable motes of dust, floating to and fro in the air, which for dimness of light or sight before she was not able to discern. Even so it is with many that are careful of their ways, so that little may be seen amiss that might require either reformation or amendment, yet, when they shall come to look more attentively into God's law, a little beam of light reflecting upon their souls from it, will discover unto them such an innumerable company, as well of corruptions in their hearts as of errors and oversights in their lives, that it shall make them, as men amazed, cry out, Lord, what earthly man doth know the errors of his life?

(T. Gataker.)

He who boasts of being perfect is perfect in folly. I have been a good deal up and down the world, and I neither did see either a perfect horse or a perfect man, and I never shall until two Sundays come together. You cannot get white flour out of a coal sack, nor perfection out of human nature; he who looks for it had better look for sugar in the sea. The old saying is, "Lifeless, faultless." Of dead men we should say nothing but good; but as for the living, they are all tarred, more or less, with the black brush, and half an eye can see it. Every head has a soft place in it, and every heart has its black drop. Every rose has its prickles, and every day its night. Even the sun shows spots, and the skies are darkened with clouds. Nobody is so wise but he has folly enough to stock a stall at Vanity Fair. Where I could not see the fool's cap, I have, nevertheless, heard the bells jingle. As there is no sunshine without some shadow, so is all human good mixed up with more or less evil; even poor law guardians have their little failings, and parish beadles are not wholly of heavenly nature. The best wine has its lees. All men's faults are not written on their foreheads, and it is quite as well they are not, or hats would need wide brims; yet, as sure as eggs are eggs, faults of some sort nestle in every man's bosom. There's no telling when a man's sins may show themselves, for hares pop out of a ditch just when you are not looking for them. A horse that is weak in the legs may not stumble for a mile or two, but it's in him, and the rider had better hold him up well. The tabby cat is not lapping milk just now, but leave the dairy door open, and we will see if she is not as bad a thief as the kitten. There's fire in the flint, cool as it looks; wait till the steel gets a knock at it, and you will see. Everybody can read that riddle, but it is not everybody that will remember to keep his gunpowder out of the way of the candle.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is credibly reported that in some parts of Italy there are spiders of so poisonous a nature as will kill him that treads upon them, and break a glass if they do but creep over it. This shows clearly that the force of this poison is not in measure by the quantity, but in the nature by the quality thereof. And even so the force of sin consists not in the greatness of She subject or object of it, but in the poisonful nature of it, for that it is the breach of the law, violation of the justice, and a provocation of the wrath of God, and is a present poison and damnation to men's souls; therefore, as the least poison, as poison, being deadly to the body, is detested, so the least sin, as sin, being mortal to the soul, is to be abhorred.

(J. Spencer.)

Anyone, Commanded, Commandments, Commands, Commits, Error, Forbidden, Ignorance, Inadvertence, Lord's, Offerings, Order, Ought, Regarding, Saying, Sin, Sins, Sons, Soul, Speak, Unintentionally, Unwittingly, Violate, Wrong
1. The sin offering of ignorance
3. for the priest
13. for the congregation
22. for the ruler
27. for any of the people

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Leviticus 4:1-3

     7422   ritual

Leviticus 4:1-5

     6021   sin, nature of

Leviticus 4:1-35

     6750   sin-bearer

Leviticus 4:2-3

     5803   carelessness

Leviticus 4:2-12

     7444   sin offering

John's First Testimony to Jesus.
(Bethany Beyond Jordan, February, a.d. 27.) ^D John I. 19-34. ^d 19 And this is the witness of John [John had been sent to testify, "and" this is the matter of his testimony], when the Jews [The term "Jews" is used seventy times by John to describe the ruling classes of Judæa] sent unto him [In thus sending an embassy they honored John more than they ever honored Christ. They looked upon John as a priest and Judæan, but upon Jesus as a carpenter and Galilæan. It is probable that
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The emphasis which modern criticism has very properly laid on the prophetic books and the prophetic element generally in the Old Testament, has had the effect of somewhat diverting popular attention from the priestly contributions to the literature and religion of Israel. From this neglect Leviticus has suffered most. Yet for many reasons it is worthy of close attention; it is the deliberate expression of the priestly mind of Israel at its best, and it thus forms a welcome foil to the unattractive
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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